Douwe Fokkema's Perfect Worlds begins with four hypotheses about utopian fiction. The first is that moments of crisis, “when dominant ideologies can no longer answer the needs of the day” (16), create favorable cultural conditions for the production and reception of utopian genres; the second, that “we will see an upsurge of utopian narratives among writers who have emancipated themselves from revealed religion” (19); the third, that the closer we are to the realization of “eutopian” principles, “the greater the chance that we will see an increase of dystopian writing that aims to expose the adverse results of any good intention” (21). The final of the four hypotheses, the one that represents the most illuminating and original aspect of this big book, is that “Chinese and European utopian fictions have gone through opposite historical developments” (26). These hypotheses come at the heels of a yet earlier declaration in the book's...

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